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Hello everyone I’m new to this forum and I have a question which may be a silly one to all you experienced users and makers of walking sticks.
Some years ago I was walking in my neighborhood and one of my neighbors had put out a pile of freshly cut canes for the lawn and leaf pickup. I have no idea what kind of wood the canes were, but they seemed very tough and sturdy and one of them called to me saying, “I would make a perfect walking stick.” So I pulled my soon-to-be companion out of the pile, trimmed it with a knife, smoothed it a little, and carved out a little notch for my index finger. I love this stick. I’m still not finished with it but I’ve taken it on many hiking trips out west and here in Texas.
Now for my question. My stick is oriented so that it is thicker at the bottom and tapers a little, towards the top. I have no idea why I did it this way but by now it’s very comfortable for me, having the thicker portion at the bottom. BUT, I have noticed, when looking at walking stick offerings online, that they tend to be thicker towards the TOP, and tapered off towards the bottom. This has me questioning whether I have made a proper walking stick. But, as I said, I’m very comfortable with my stick’s orientation and to be truthful I can’t see doing it any other way.
What is the reason why walking sticks typically taper towards the bottom? Am I missing a key point of walking stick construction and physics, as it were?
Thanks,
Daniel M.
Houston, TX
 

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Well Daniel, I think most think it looks better with the classic tapered end especially with canes. You know it's all about style with some. Personally I don't cotton to that idea and keep my walking sticks straight on to the bottom.
 

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I have made several 'canes' - and in each case I have tapered the shaft from top (wider) to bottom (narrower) - that's what seemed natural at the time. The taper is typically quite slight - I usually make the diameter at the top about 1 1/8", and the diameter at the bottom about 7/8".

I've also made a number of hiking staffs - and in those instances I haven't done anything more than remove the bark from the sapling that I cut down in the woods behind our house - so if there is any taper, its because that's the way the tree was growing.

So if its for your own use, I think its a matter of whatever floats your boat.
 

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If it's a stick and you walk with it, it's a walking stick.

There is a style of stick popular amongst UK makers (and others I would assume) called a thumb stick. They're made from a sapling which has a fork in it which means that they tend to get a bit larger towards the bottom. Your stick is absolutely fine, I'm sure. I think the tradition of it tapering towards the bottom began with the use of the root portion of the stick being used as a handle or having it as the business end of a cudgel.

And welcome to the forum!
 

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What dww2 said! Just about every British source I've found on stickmaking extols the one-piece, natural thumb stick as a functional companion. So thick-side-down has a long and distinguished history in walking sticks, and there's no law making a fork on top mandatory! That you intuitively oriented your stick that way seems to suggest the taper's not excessive, but regardless, you found and crafted a stick that suits you. Congrats!
 
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